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Posted on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 6:01 a.m.

Greeted with impossible expectations, Tate Forcier's departure from Michigan was inevitable ending

By Pete Bigelow


Quarterback Tate Forcier exited the Michigan football program, but not before leaving behind a few memorable moments.

File photo

Almost anything seemed possible on the bright, blue April afternoon.

More than 50,000 fans came to the Michigan football team’s annual spring game that day, despite the memories of a 3-9 season still fresh. They had come that day to see Tate Forcier.

Forcier was Rich Rodriguez’s first prized recruit. Signed that winter, he inherited a heap of expectations after the quarterback struggles the previous season.

Forcier fed those expectations. Desperate to find someone to believe in again, the crowd was rollicking after he completed 10 of 13 passes and rushed for 46 yards.

Thousands followed Forcier out of the stadium afterward and waited for him to emerge from the locker room. When he did, they serenaded him with chants and cheers. With one spring football game performance against the second-team defense, Tate Forcier had been proclaimed and anointed the savior of Michigan football.

In retrospect, there was nowhere for Forcier to go from that day but down.

A true freshman … home-schooled in San Diego … all of 18 years old … on campus for three months … the face of the program, immediately crushed with impossible expectations of instantly restoring a program fallen on hard times.

“There’s obviously going to be tremendous pressure, but being that freshman quarterback you’ve gotta realize it’s not just you out there on the field,” said Chad Henne, who once played at Michigan as a true freshman quarterback himself.

Henne got it half right. When he quarterbacked Michigan as a true freshman, he had a veteran group of players surrounding him. Forcier had no such luxury.

Nonetheless, he did pretty well for a while, leading the Wolverines with an improvisational style that made fans cover their eyes in fear but also produced thrilling wins against Notre Dame and Indiana.

But his saga reached its inevitable conclusion last week. Like his entire career here, it was not a clean and easy departure.

Athletic director Dave Brandon announced that Forcier was no longer a part of the program on the day of Brady Hoke’s hiring. Then there were murmurs of reconciliation. Then Forcier made his departure official in a series of late-night tweets. It was official.

In a span of less than two years, he had gone from Michigan football’s savior to starting 12 electrifying games as a true freshman to benched and wingless the following summer, then back in good graces and serving as an able and consistent backup who always seemed ready when Denard Robinson went down to out the door.

Got all that?

In between, he struggled academically and absorbed rebukes from teammates who thought he didn’t work hard enough in the team’s off-season workouts and was subjected to the rather public shame of being demoted to third-string quarterback.

Whenever Forcier was asked about any of the tumult, he always was an open book, always candid about his own mistakes, always enthusiastic about his future and Michigan.

You cannot help but wonder what might have been had Forcier been given a chance to mature on the field for a few years behind a veteran starter or what might have happened off the field, had he learned his academic responsibilities under a less-intense glare.

But that was never possible here for Forcier, the face for Rich Rodriguez’s offense and of Michigan football from the moment he stepped on campus. Perhaps his departure is best for Michigan and for him. Both deserve fresh starts. Michigan will get its clean slate under new coach Brady Hoke. It’s less certain where Forcier lands. ESPN has reported he’s considering half the schools in Division I right now.

No matter where he lands, the year off mandated by NCAA transfer rules is probably exactly what he needs after a topsy-turvy two years with Michigan.

No matter where he lands, here’s to wishing him well.

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at (734) 623-2551, via e-mail at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

If Forcier was recruited to Michigan for his football skills with little thought given to his academic skills, just so Rodriguez's program could take hold, then shame on Michigan. He didn't fail on the field, he failed in the classroom. He should have been told he was here for school and only secondarily for football, not the other way around.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

@Gaboo, in a real world I would go along with what you say unfortunately, well I think you get my drift?


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

Morhead, Franklin, Leach, Harbaugh, Grbac, Demetrius Brown, Collins, Dreisbach, Griese, Brady, Navarre, Henne............all struggled at times, overcame adversity, and prevailed. Now that RR is long gone perhaps we will get back to recruiting maturity and mental toughness first.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:25 a.m.

Tate was smart to leave. The kid has talent that was going to be used second or third to DB. Of the 2 QB's I think Tate has a better shot at QB in the pro's and he sure as hell would have been a solid back-up if and when DR goes down this coming season.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Did these 'impossible' expectations lead Tate to fail academically and skip out on team workouts? Or maybe was it the case that Tate wanted the sweet life without having to work for it? The guy was arrogant (just as arrogant as Ryan Mallet was) and didn't take school or his responsibility to his team seriously. As soon as a coach like Hoke was hired it was obvious Tate was gone. He (just like RichRod) was selfish and uninterested in working to improve those around him. I hope Tate has learned some valuable lessons and will use his athletic abilities to secure himself a degree and bright future. As for the fans, there's no way I'm buying into the idea that we set an unreachable goal for Tate. He fell out of favor in the off season because he didn't attend workouts. He dropped out because didn't maintain the necessary GPA to remain a student athlete (or as a student in general as I've heard). I'm not sure how the fans and their expectations caused either of those things to happen.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

I like your article.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

"Oh, and wasn't there a third Rodriguez player who got caught because of a cocaine deal gone bad? So that's three, if memory serves. How many of these player disasters did Carr or Moeller or Bo have? I count... zero. Carr had some "problem children" but mostly turned them around--- in early morning runs up and down the benches in the Big House. James Whitley doesn't count: his crime was committed long after he left Michigan. (In fact, his trial began Jan. 24, 2010.) Just sayin' - maybe there WAS something to the Rodriguez Curse. Forcier may be just a late arriving "inheritor."" I think it's ridiculous how a few on this board implicitly, or explicitly ^^^, attempt to pin Forcier's classroom work ethic on Rich Rodriguez. Kids like Odoms, V. Smith, and the majority of the rest of the team come from disadvantaged neighborhoods where academics is typically not a priority. Yet, all of those kids save Forcier were eligible because they possessed the desire and work ethic in the classroom. It comes from within. Rich Rodriguez can make them go to study table but he CANNOT make them learn. Why don't you bring up Michael Shaw, who struggled for eligibility in spring, then was successful in remaining eligible throughout the year? Why don't you talk about how Rodriguez and his staff may have helped this kid through? But, alas, it's more fun to stomp on a man's grave. Carr kids with troubled tenures at Michigan -- Larry Harrison, Kelly Baraka, Johnny Sears...just to name three right off the top of my head.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:21 a.m.

Another thing, they threw him to the lions his freshman year and the kid showed spunk, I liked Tate Forcier.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Kid's gone, maybe he didn't like the winged helmet, maybe he'd rather surf who the hell knows, who the hell cares, he's gone and I wish him the greatest success in his life.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

Maybe Tate should try a school like San Diego State. This school is close to his family and friends. If they don't run the spread I think Tate could adapt to most anything with his skills. I think Tate could adapt better than DR to a mix or even pro style. I would like to have seen Tate stay at Mich. I believe DR needs a good backup with experiance because DR is vulnerable to injuries. DR is a fast kid but slight of build and the solid hits hurt (injure) him. Most opposing defenses know that if you knock DR out of the game, game over.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

I remeber as a young man in grade school... If you didnt pass ur classes you were not able to participate in sports. Same in high school... An so on... Tate will land on his feet an be fine...


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

No question: I back Dusty's comment about parents 100%


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

Good job, Pete. You tried, not everyone agrees but I do know there are more times than most people know about where someone with great promise suddenly has a terrible reversal. One thing: does anyone remember the name Boubacar Cissoko? Yeah, that cornerback who showed real promise on the defense... then the slide, then out the door (and next came robbing taxi drivers). Another Rodriguez star... with the same profile and trajectory. Oh, and wasn't there a third Rodriguez player who got caught because of a cocaine deal gone bad? So that's three, if memory serves. How many of these player disasters did Carr or Moeller or Bo have? I count... zero. Carr had some "problem children" but mostly turned them around--- in early morning runs up and down the benches in the Big House. James Whitley doesn't count: his crime was committed long after he left Michigan. (In fact, his trial began Jan. 24, 2010.) Just sayin' - maybe there WAS something to the Rodriguez Curse. Forcier may be just a late arriving "inheritor."


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

Back in the day of Bo and to some extent Moeller, there were plenty of wayward players that were well beyond just mischievous, but the issues were kept in house. Virtually impossible to keep things out of the limelight these days. For anyone to believe otherwise is ridiculous.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

Considering he has also had 2 brothers who have transferred from one school to another when the going got tough, I think we can look no further than his parents when assigning blame. There are no bad kids. Only bad parents.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.



Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 3:04 a.m.

Ok, um... I take exception to the title of this article. "Impossible expectations"? I don't think expecting somebody to DO THEIR SCHOOLWORK is an impossible expectation.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

Tate was good.. Denard was betr... Now we will see how good the next guy is... The time of a four year starter is over... I wanna know where dev gardner will go... He was perfect for rich rod... Maybe not so much for coach hoke. go blue


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

Ya doggy, that will be an interesting evolving situation. Kind of wish Tate had stayed I could see him being of use to Brady, oh well!


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 10:26 p.m.

Tate will be fine. Judging Tate by his success at Mich. is ridiculous. Tate will be fine and leaving Mich. could very well be a blessing in disguise.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

There are plenty of players that come into programs with high expectations placed upon their shoulders. There was nothing "inevitable" about Forcier leaving. If that were true then I would expect to see predictions of such from dated back at the start of 2009. But of course no such article ever appeared. It's only "inevitable" in hindsight, something many people exercise with great skill. Forcier was a pretty good QB and could have been a lot better. He chose not to be. Case closed.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

It apparently was an impossible expectation to hope that he could meet the academic demands of a major university. His problems included a remarkable sense of entitlement and an inability to pass tests and do homework, despite being placed in the athlete track here. I'm sorry he washed out, but it's not like he was ever going to be a true leader here.

David Vande Bunte

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

The only things that made his departure from U of M inevitable were his lack of effort in practice, and his lack of effort in the classroom. Forcier had every chance to keep the starting position last spring, but he didn't bust his butt to improve like Denard did. Forcier also blew off classes, which caused his grades to get low enough where he was academically ineligible to travel with the team to the bowl. If Tate Forcier had worked his butt off both on the field and in the classroom, would be be leaving Michigan? Nope. How about giving Tate a little of the responsibility for his own departure?


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Let's get over it folks. Tate is gone, oh well. There are multiple reasons why and so let's move on. How about spend some time on writing about the athletes that are here. There are 100's of athletes in 30 plus sports here that get little recognition, yet you see fit to focus on a guy who could not cut it and is gone. Brings back ugly memories of the ann arbor snews' awful sports coverage.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

"In retrospect, there was nowhere for Forcier to go from that day but down." "immediately crushed with impossible expectations of instantly restoring a program fallen on hard times." There may have been high expectations for Tate ON THE FIELD, but how does that have anything to do with him not doing enough work in the classroom to stay eligible ? The two have nothing to do with one another, and make no mistake, it is his failure in the classroom that is the cause for him leaving UM. You make it sound like the pressure from the fans and the program is the reason he did not manage a GPA of 1.9 or better (which is not THAT hard to do) to stay eligible. Perhaps he could not live up to high expectations football-wise, but every player whether he is the QB or not is expected and required to do well enough in the classroom to stay eligible. Tate failed to do that, and it is on him. This article is trying to make excuses for him. One good thing about Tate is that he finally acknowledged that he made mistakes, but unfortunately for him that came too late at UM. He still has time to change and improve, play some more football, and get a good education. Good luck Tate.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

tulsatom, I looked up the academic eligibility requirements and I found that you need to keep a 1.65 GPA in the 1st year, a 1.8 in the 2nd year, a 1.9 in the 3rd year, and a 2.0 in the 4th year. It's a little higher requirement each year, but still that's not a very high GPA to maintain. You would think a QB would be able to do it with at least a small amount of effort.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

I totally agree, Missionbrazil. What I find interesting is that he was able to remain eligible his freshman year while he was busy starting most of the games but he couldn't keep up in the classroom during his sophomore year when he was backup QB. What's wrong with this picture? I think he problably felt sorry for himself that he wasn't starting anymore and started moping around and having a 'pity party' instead of sucking it up and doing his part to support the team. I may be wrong but that's what I suspect happened.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

If this result was "inevitable", where was this article two years ago? I actually think Forcier is a better QB than Robinson, though the latter is a better athlete. I lay a bunch of this on RR; his actions seemed to exacerbate rather than amerliorate the problems that Forcier had at Michigan. Public humiliation was not the correct motivational tool for Forcier.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

I agree with Pete in that a lot was expected of Tate when he came to U-M because he came on the heels of a 3-9 record and he was touted as 'The Answer' to Threet and Sheridan. Perhaps too much was expected of him. It came with pressure but I think Tate embraced the fame and limelight that came with the challenge and performed very well until the weight of playing against better competition and injury took their toll. When he was relegated to backup duty he lost a lot of the attention and I think he saw his status wasn't going to change anytime soon. It reminds me of the old saying, "It's hard to go back to the farm once you've seen Paris". Maybe Tate agrees with what Milton said in 'Paradise Lost': "Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n". Not that AA is heaven, but you know what I mean. As Murrow's Ghost would say, "To Tate, Good Night and Good Luck".


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Pete: I don't know if I quite get what you are saying. Do you mean that any QB that comes in as a frosh to a traditional high achieving program is doomed to failure? Do you mean that Tate was the only talented one on the field in 2009 year? What about the coaching? A lot of coaching is not just specific football development but off-the-field maturing. Was that available for Tate? What about his classroom performance? Is it inevitable that a home schooled athlete cannot make the adjustment to a very competitive highly ranked school? There are a whole lot of factors that by no means made it inevitable for TAte to leave the program or not have success. Sports, as academics are too, are very competitive and you are only as good as your last performance. If he could not handle the competition, then he needed to adjust to that, but I think we all wish him well wherever he lands. I personally think he could have been mentored better to avoid off-the-field stuff, and I don't like that Woolfolk called him out so publicly, but I think there is a whole lot more to this story than "inevitable conclusion" of leaving.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

I wish him well. I also hope he takes classes and course work more seriously the next place he goes.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

Obviously academics was an issue for Tate. I really liked that kid's moxey on the field for the most part. I would really like to know from somebody reliable what other "irreconcilable differences" existed. Anybody with a clue?


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

I don't see it. Impossible expectations? Inevitable ending? How were the expectations different for Forcier than they were for Denard Robinson or anyone else on the team? Given they were all in the boat together, shouldn't Robinson and others be saying their goodbyes to Michigan, too? I liked Forcier a lot and I'm not going to attack him for the way things ended for him at Michigan. I'm not judging Forcier, as it's not what about what he deserves or doesn't deserve, it's only the consequences of choices made, a simple equation that didn't add up to success for him. So let's not throw him a pity party. The details of his exit are few, but it sounds like Tate wasn't thriving in the classroom, nor was he taking practice and training seriously. The only inevitable ending I see is a result from these choices he made, and the same ending would have succumbed Chad Henne had he chosen the same course of action, veteran group of players surrounding him or not. The expectations of a Michigan quarterback are towering, and considering the state of the team when Forcier started, they may have never been higher, still if he made if he made different choices, he might still be on the team, if not the starting quarterback. Impossible doesn't even enter the picture. There are kids at big programs across the nation in the same battle with the same expectations that Forcier was under. Some are mature enough to handle it, while some aren't. Tate said himself after beating Notre Dame in 2009 that he is immune to pressure. Tate Forcier is not at Michigan because of Tate Forcier, not because of Michigan's rabid fans and their expectations. Good luck, Tate. Here's hoping for a successful future. Go Blue!


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:13 a.m.

I agree with some of what you wrote. "The expectations of a Michigan quarterback are towering", boys and girls the expectations in life are towering. Let's not be to hard on Tate and give him credit for all his hard work I'm sure he did in his youth just to get to Mich. and give all of us some thrilling, entertaining moments as our freshman QB. The young man has actually accomplished a great deal probably a great deal more than most young men his age. I think young Mr Tate will be just fine, he didn't get this far by being a bum. You could look at this scenario another way, I kind of feel sorry for Mich. football this coming season without Tate maybe, it's our loss.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Tate helped us through a difficult time when we had no one else with any experience to play. As you said, normally, freshmen QB's at Michigan aren't faced with this challenge. Transferring is probably the best thing for him right now, as he'll be able to do a good job for two seasons at another school where expectations won't be unreasonable. I think he should transfer to a lower profile, mid-sized school. Also, the year off will give more time to grow up. I also think Michigan would have tried to keep him here if they thought it was a good idea. But most likely, there were other "irreconcilable differences".


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

I can see his play being affected by the pressure of all those fans and media attention, but were the fans and media supposed to help little Tate do his school work? He wasn't doing his class work in the Big House with everyone cheering or booing how he answered questions on his homework. Maybe he could have used his study time to get away from the pressure of all the attention.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:01 a.m.

I hope young Mr Forcier nothing but the best in his life. Does he need to grow up, how old is he? I will not belittle this young man for his mistakes, lord I've made enough in my life, have you made any?

Jonny Spirit

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Go North young man get away from the dark side. MSU will take you. We already have really good players who don't like to be part of a team and don't like to work hard. You will fit in perfectly! No, seriously we will take you, your a talented young man, Good Luck Tate!


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

We could have used Tate at Mich. Robinson is injury prone when he takes off running. We should have assigned Tate a handler like other schools do when a kid (quality kid) has problems. I think we're going to regret losing Tate. Some of the boys and girls on this site think Brady can resolve all problems by snapping his fingers not so and he will find that out if Robinson goes down.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 3:08 a.m.

Does Tate have what it takes to be a Spartan? I mean, I don't remember hearing anything in the last couple of years about him being in jail.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

PaperSS, Tate did meet with several MSU academic counselors and each of them privately admitted to Tate that his homeschooling stint already exceeded any undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs at MSU.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

Hey jonny you are right at least he could handle the academic workload at msu.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

Nicely written article. Sometimes we forget how young these guys are and how much pressure and expectations we place on them.